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These plans are from the original UKBAP Tranches 1 and 2 (1995-1999)
For up-to-date information please visit The Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS)

Plans | Species | Mammals | Sciurus vulgaris

Species Action Plan

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

©Dr Paul Bright, Royal Holloway, University of London

Current status

Populations of red squirrel in the UK have suffered markedly over the last 50 years with the introduced grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) replacing the species throughout most of England and Wales. The distribution is now largely confined to Scotland and Ireland, although isolated populations persist in southern England, on three islands in Poole Harbour in Dorset, at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, on the Isle of Wight and at Thetford in Norfolk. At the current rate of decline, it is estimated that the population will probably disappear from Staffordshire by the year 2000. In Wales only a few thousand red squirrels remain, confined to scattered localities and in northern England it is found only where greys have not yet established themselves. The species remains widespread and locally common in Scotland, where they have shown a modest expansion in range and number. The species is also widespread in Northern Ireland.
Reds are usually displaced within 15 years of the arrival of greys, appearing to suffer competitive exclusion by a species better adapted to conditions in the now fragmented British woodland, where acorns are often the principal food. The current population is estimated to be 160,000.
The red squirrel is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention and is protected by Schedules 5 and 6 of the WCA and Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Current factors causing loss or decline

Spread of grey squirrels.
Habitat fragmentation making some areas less suitable for red squirrels, increasing their vulnerability to displacement by grey squirrels.
Disease.

Current action

JNCC is drafting a UK strategy for Red Squirrel Conservation.
The species is the subject of a Species Recovery Programme run by NE. A major campaign "Red Alert" has been initiated to raise public awareness and co-ordinate conservation projects, and a Squirrel Forum has been established.
The Forestry Commission is currently researching a new hopper designed to be selective in poisoning grey but not red squirrels. Permission to trial the hopper live is being sought from MAFF at present. If the trials are successful, this will be a major advance in controlling greys.
Habitat manipulation studies are in progress. Forest management studies are being carried out with FA funding, while FE have identified at least three large forest areas where red squirrel conservation management is a priority.
Experimental translocations to Thetford have identified protocols, but await genetic studies before translocation takes place. Planning for a full-scale translocation is in progress.

Action plan objectives and targets

Where appropriate, maintain current populations of red squirrel.
Where appropriate, enhance current populations of red squirrel.
Re-establish red squirrel populations, where appropriate.

Proposed actions with lead agencies

Policy and legislation

Achieve agreement on the UK Red Squirrel Strategy and develop regional guidelines for management of red and grey squirrel populations within the national framework. (ACTION: FA, JNCC, LAs)
Review geographical restrictions on use of Warfarin. (ACTION: FA, DANI, MAFF, SOAEFD, WOAD)
Seek to ensure that the needs of the red squirrels are taken into account when reviewing or preparing Indicative Forestry Strategies. (ACTION: FA, LAs, Regional Authorities)

Site safeguard and management

Prepare and implement site management plans for all sites with viable populations. This should be phased, with plans for all marginal sites by the year 2000 and all other sites by 2005. (ACTION: CCW, NE, DoE(NI), FA, FE, LAs, SNH,)
Attempt to create or maintain 2,000 ha of conifer reserves in Wales to provide a suitable habitat for the red squirrel. (ACTION: CCW, FA, FE, WOAD)

Species management and protection

Develop strategies, within the national framework, to guide and co-ordinate work. (ACTION: CCW, DoE(NI), NE, FC, JNCC, SNH)
Assess experimental translocation projects for wider use. (ACTION: CCW, NE, FA, FE)
Attempt to prevent expansion of grey squirrel range to key areas currently occupied by reds. (ACTION: FA, FE,)

Advisory

Advise land managers on the relationship between reds and greys, and appropriate management. (ACTION: CCW, DoE(NI), NE, FA, SNH)
Develop guidance on forestry design to benefit red squirrels. (ACTION: DANI, FA, MAFF, SOAEFD, WOAD, )

Future Research and Monitoring

Continue research on feeding ecology, bait hoppers,supplementary feeding,red/grey interactions, methods of control and eradication (e.g. immunosterilants), translocation, population reinforcement, habitat manipulation (including nestbox provision), and phylogenetic studies. (ACTION: CCW, NE, FC, DoE(NI), JNCC, SNH,)
Establish a survey method and Squirrel Monitoring Scheme to ascertain population levels, identify key sites and monitor range and population of greys. (ACTION: FC, JNCC).
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to JNCC in order that it can be incorporated in a national database and contribute to the maintenance of an up-to-date Red List. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)

Communications and Publicity

The balance between red and grey squirrel populations is an emotive issue. Clear information explaining the relationship between reds and greys should be made available to the public and landowners. (ACTION: CCW, NE, DoE(NI), FA, SNH)

Links with other action plans

None given.

Local implementation

The following LBAPs are working on Sciurus vulgaris:


Your Wildlife.  The Newcastle Biodiversity Action Plan Clackmannanshire Biodiversity Partnership Gosforth Park - Cramlington Wildlife Corridor BAP Isle of Wight Local Biodiversity Action Plan Action for Nature: The Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Neath-Port Talbot 2001-2006 North Merseyside BAP East Lothian Biodiversity Working for the Wealth of Wildlife - Anglesey's Local Biodiversity Action Plan Denbighshire Biodiversity Action Plan A Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Conwy Fife Nature in the Dales - a local Biodiversity Action Plan for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Nature in the Dales - a local Biodiversity Action Plan for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Ceredigion Biodiversity Action Plan Ceredigion Biodiversity Action Plan Bioamrywiaeth yn Eryri Bioamrywiaeth yn Eryri Stirling Council Area Biodiversity Action Plan Carmarthenshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan Action for Wildlife - The Durham Biodiversity Plan Lancashire's Biodiversity Action Plan Cornwall’s Biodiversity vol 1, 2 and 3 Suffolk Local Biodiversity Action Plan Working for Wildlife; the Northumberland Biodiversity Action Plan Dumfries and Galloway Dumfries and Galloway Dumfries and Galloway Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Argyll and Bute Cumbria Biodiversity Action Plan North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership Northumbrian Water Biodiversity Action Plan

Publication details

Originally published in: Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume II: Action Plans (December 1995, Tranche 1, Vol 2, p91)

Related links

ARKive Visit the ARKive website to view images and further information relating to this species
© Joint Nature Conservation Committee 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010